Privileged Pariahs: Wives of Korean Professional Expatriates in the UAE

Scholars have long examined the ways in which migrants integrate in the host society. Through the traditional theories of assimilation and integration, migrants’ tendency to settle regardless of their intent have been examined. However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a unique case that enforces the temporariness of the migrants, as typical avenues of incorporation are closed off by exclusionary policies and citizenship is only granted jus sanguinis. In this research, I ask how mothers married to professional expatriates construct their belonging in a host country given their intent to return. I focus on the wives of high-skilled employees in the Korean companies, who migrate with their families as intracompany transferees on a three to five year contract. Based on 33 in-depth interviews conducted between 2016 and 2017 with the wives of Korean professional expatriates living in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), I investigate the negotiation of everyday subjectivity of these individuals, and examine how they find meaning or construct belonging in their daily lives. I argue that they form three different types of belonging: 1) belonging constructed by social networks, 2) belonging through consumer citizenship, and 3) identifying as “supporters,” demonstrated by confined agency with intensified motherhood and wifehood.


Stratified Sense of Belonging: the Case of Textile Market in Dubai, UAE

How to temporary migrants develop a sense of belonging? I investigate this question through participant observation at the Dubai Textile Market in UAE. Within this unique site that highlights the interactions of different ethnoracial groups, I postulate that all individuals – both the nationals and foreign migrants – belong in ethnoracially stratified manners within the UAE and construct their identities in comparison to the other group.